Carlos Monteiro noticed something strange about the food that Brazilians were eating in the late 2000s. The nutritionist had been poring over surveys that asked grocery shoppers to write down every item they bought over the past three decades. Monteiro noticed that Brazilians were purchasing significantly less salt, sugar, and oil in more recent surveys. Despite this, individuals were gaining weight. The percentage of adults in Brazil who were overweight or obese more than doubled between 1975 and 2009.
Monteiro was troubled by this contradiction. Why were people getting bigger, if they were buying less sugar and fat? The data contained the answer right there. The Brazilians weren’t really cutting back on sugar, salt, and fat; rather, they were consuming these nutrients in a different way. Prepackaged bread, sweets, sausage, and other snacks were being substituted for traditional foods like rice, beans, and vegetables. Since the first household survey in 1974, the proportion of soft drinks and biscuits in Brazilians’ shopping baskets had tripled and quadrupled, respectively. Everywhere there was evidence of the change. When Monteiro became a doctor for the first time in 1972, he was concerned that Brazilians weren’t getting enough food. By the last part of the 2000s, his nation was enduring with the specific inverse issue.
Monteiro’s findings seem obvious from a distance. Overeating unhealthy foods causes people to gain weight. However, that explanation did not satisfy the nutritionist. He thought that scientists needed a new way to talk about a fundamental shift in our food system. Nutrients have been the focus of nutrition science for more than a century: Reduce your intake of saturated fat, cut back on sugar, get enough vitamin C, etc. However, Monteiro desired a novel approach to food classification that emphasized the process of production rather than the contents. Monteiro believed that unhealthy food did not just come from the ingredients. It covered the entire system: how the food was prepared, how quickly we consumed it, and how it was advertised and sold. Monteiro says, “We are proposing a new theory to comprehend the connection between diet and health.”
The NOVA food classification system, developed by Monteiro, divides things into four groups. Foods that haven’t been processed much, like fruits, vegetables, and meat that hasn’t been processed, are the least worrying. Oils, butter, and sugar are the next processed culinary ingredients, followed by tinned vegetables, smoked meats, freshly baked bread, and simple cheeses, which should be used sparingly as part of a healthy diet. There are also highly processed foods.
A product may fall into the ultra-processed category for a variety of reasons. Extrusion, interesterification, carbonation, hydrogenation, molding, or prefrying are examples of “industrial processes” used in its production. Preservatives that help it remain stable at room temperature or additives that aim to make it extremely palatable are two possibilities. Or, it might contain a combination of salt, sugar, and fat that is uncommon in whole foods at high levels. According to Monteiro, one thing that all of the foods have in common is that they are made to replace dishes that have just been prepared and keep you coming back for more and more. Monteiro asserts, “You are consuming something that was designed to be overconsumed every day from breakfast to dinner.”
The idea of super handled food has gotten on amazingly since it was first presented in 2009: NOVA has been included in the dietary guidelines of Brazil, France, Israel, Ecuador, and Peru. Incalculable wellbeing and consume less calories sites laud the ideals of keeping away from super handled food sources — disregarding them is one thing that the two supporters of a predatory and a crude vegetarian diet can really settle on. Plant-based meat companies have been criticized using the label, but they have also adopted it. The Impossible plant-based burger is described as “unapologetically processed.” Others have said that we can’t feed billions of people without using processed food.
People who go through a lot
You can find instant ramen, potato chips, biscuits, canned soup, sweets, and cereal bars in my kitchen’s cupboards—a world of highly processed food that comes ready to eat with little or no preparation. Not simply me is in bondage to helpful food sources. The average diet in the UK is almost 57% ultra-processed food, and the average diet in the US is more than 60% ultra-processed food.
Additionally, it appears that all of this consumption is harming our health. All kinds of health problems have been linked to eating too much highly processed food: obesity, depression, colorectal and breast cancer, and mortality from all causes. Sorting out how our weight control plans impact our wellbeing is incredibly troublesome, and any easy chair analyst will let you know that relationship doesn’t approach causation, yet it appears to be evident that devouring an excessive amount of super handled food isn’t really great for us.
This is because foods that have been extremely processed frequently contain a lot of salt,
In the beginning, skeptic Kevin Hall was extremely processed. He studies how diet affects body weight and metabolism at the US National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. When a Brazilian researcher mentioned the NOVA categorization to him at a conference in 2015, that was the first time he heard of it. The researcher inquired, “Why are you still looking at nutrients when they are no longer important?” Hall says, “This struck me as a profoundly strange way to think about food.” He had studied the effects of nutrients on the human body his entire life. He thought that’s what food was: different ways to package nutrients together.
Nevertheless, Hall conducted the first randomized control trial comparing ultra-processed and unprocessed diets because he was sufficiently intrigued by the NOVA classification. In 2019, Hall asked 20 volunteers to stay at a clinical research hospital in Bethesda for two weeks on a diet consisting only of ultra-processed or whole foods. After that, the volunteers would switch to the other diet for two weeks. A variety of foods, including tater tots, turkey sausage, Spam, and an ungodly amount of diet lemonade, were served to those following the extremely processed diet. The entire food diet